Reorganized ARFD considers expanding territory

Thursday, April 5, 2012
Arrow Rock Fire Department Chief Steve Bertani shows the fire board a southeast portion of Saline County that lacks fire protection. The department is currently considering incorporating land north of I-70 and between Lemon Trail and the Cooper County line into its coverage. (Maggie Menderski/Democrat-News)

The Arrow Rock Community Fire Department has not only rebuilt its board and personnel but may expand its coverage.

At the regularly scheduled board meeting on Monday, April 2, ARFD Fire Chief Steve Bertani announced his intent to cover a previously unprotected southeast portion of the county.

Having met with E911 Director Stacie Smith, Bertani learned the land north of Interstate 70 and between Lemon Trail and the Cooper County line presently lacks fire protection.

The Sweet Springs Fire Department relinquished its claim to that area when the department restructured this past year.

"That's 911's little problem area," Bertani said. "... Those people there are basically orphans."

Bertani reasoned this additional turf could generate dues revenue for the department as well as to provide the ARFD's personnel more opportunities to run fire calls.

The board questioned whether the department personnel would feel comfortable answering calls on the new area's 6.1 mile stretch of I-70.

"(Interstate) 70 is dangerous, but so is being a firefighter," Bertani said.

He also commented on the low number of calls the team presently answers and their eagerness to expand.

As the mission of ARFD stresses the importance of safety, the board discussed the practicality of covering the orphaned area.

Board member Ralph Borgman asked if another department could provide better service for the land's homes, businesses and travelers.

"I just wonder if Cooper County could provide better service," Borgman asked.

Currently, Marshall Fire Department fields the territory's fire calls. Noting the distance from MFD's hub, Bertani explained the department's eagerness to forfeit those services.

Additionally, other organizations have yet to express interest in inheriting the territory.

"It's not easy for any department to get there," Bertani said.

Presently, Bertani is unsure how many new properties the expansion includes.

The board discussed revising the dues letter and sending it to the area's residents and business owners.

"We know what it's like not to be protected and not be told," said board member Randy Morton.

Contact Maggie Menderski at mmenderski@marshallnews.com

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